US DOJ wants Facebook to help wiretap Messenger, report says

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The U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly pushing Facebook to disable or otherwise break end-to-end encryption in its Messenger text and voice messaging service as part of a criminal investigation into the MS-13 gang.




Citing sources familiar with an ongoing federal court case in California, Reuters reports the government is attempting to force Facebook into wiretapping Messenger in order to spy on a single person's voice conversations.

The social media giant has so far refused, saying the only way to comply with DOJ demands is to rewrite the encryption code that protects all Messenger users or, alternatively, hack the lone target.

Similar to other messaging products offered by major segment players, including Apple, Facebook's Messenger is end-to-end encrypted, meaning messages can only be viewed by sender and recipient. Messenger's end-to-end encryption technology was previously thought limited to a "Secret Conversations" feature that covers text, photos, and video and audio clips, but Facebook in court claims voice calls are also protected in the same manner.

In any case, Facebook is apparently unwilling to cooperate with the government and its investigation.

In response, prosecutors this week filed a motion to hold the tech company in contempt of court if it failed to comply with the surveillance request. The judge's ruling on the matter could impact the wider industry, as many firms field their own end-to-end encrypted solutions.

As noted by Reuters, if the court decides in favor of the government, the DOJ could use the case as precedent to force other companies to break their respective encryption solutions for surveillance purposes. Apple's iMessage and Facetime, the latter of which offers both video and voice calling, are end-to-end encrypted and would likely be viewed under the same legal auspices as Facebook's Messenger platform.

Apple faced similar issues when a federal judge ordered the company to assist Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in extracting data from a locked iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Though the agency was ultimately able to gain access to the phone with the help of an outside contractor, Apple's refusal to comply with government orders sparked a debate over consumer privacy and strong encryption.

As the Facebook case is proceeding under seal, documents and filings are not currently available for public viewing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    The Febs just never give up.

    It will be interesting to see when China and Russian asked for the same thing. Especially when they targeted American interest, like companies secrets and pro-US organization. 
    carnegiebaconstangStrangeDayslamboaudi4
  • Reply 2 of 35
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    claire1georgie01racerhomie3bshankirelandStrangeDayslamboaudi4magman1979[Deleted User]
  • Reply 3 of 35
    claire1claire1 Posts: 484unconfirmed, member
    These scumbags are desperate.
    viclauyycmagman1979
  • Reply 4 of 35
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service? How is a telephone call different from a text message? With probable cause and a judge’s order I don’t see the problem. The fourth amendment doesn’t prohibit search and seizure, just unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. That you don’t trust the government is your problem, not the Constitution’s.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    edited August 2018 gatorguyanantksundaramdewmewatto_cobramuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 35
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service?
    Because back then there was no forced compliance issued to the manufacturer into defeating the purpose of their product so the FBI could observe the communication they wanted. It is the FBI’s responsibility to develop technology or contract other developers in order to accomplish what they want. Why should manufacturers alter and harm their own products just because the FBI is not skilled enough to accomplish what they feel they need?
    edited August 2018 dr. xbaconstangrob53bshankirelandStrangeDayssteven n.bonobobmagman1979
  • Reply 6 of 35
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,896moderator
    georgie01 said:
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service?
    Because back then there was no forced compliance issued to the manufacturer into defeating the purpose of their product so the FBI could observe the communication they wanted. It is the FBI’s responsibility to develop technology or contract other developers in order to accomplish what they want. Why should manufacturers alter and harm their own products just because the FBI is not skilled enough to accomplish what they feel they need?
    Pretty sure there’s a wiretapping provision in law that required AT&T, for example (maker of telephones and the infrastructure to connect them) support wiretapping.  

    To my mind, communicatIons via publicly accessible infrastructure, like telephone systems of old or the internet today, is fair game for government snooping because it’s when such communication takes place that an idea in one person’s head can be disseminated and turned to actions that could cause great harm to society.  I wouldn’t be adverse to government requiring any business along that path, from one end to the other, to assist in making such communications accessible to a government search, and not just the encrypted packets.  It’s when government wants a backdoor into a personal device that I object; I see such devices as sacrosanct, as an extension of a person’s very mind. 
    edited August 2018
  • Reply 7 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,949member
    georgie01 said:
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service?
    Because back then there was no forced compliance issued to the manufacturer into defeating the purpose of their product so the FBI could observe the communication they wanted. It is the FBI’s responsibility to develop technology or contract other developers in order to accomplish what they want. Why should manufacturers alter and harm their own products just because the FBI is not skilled enough to accomplish what they feel they need?
    Pretty sure there’s a wiretapping provision in law that required AT&T, for example (maker of telephones and the infrastructure to connect them) support wiretapping.  

    To my mind, communicatIons via publicly accessible infrastructure, like telephone systems of old or the internet today, is fair game for government snooping because it’s when such communication takes place that an idea in one person’s head can be disseminated and turned to actions that could cause great harm to society.  I wouldn’t be adverse to government requiring any business along that path, from one end to the other, to assist in making such communications accessible to a government search, and not just the encrypted packets.  It’s when government wants a backdoor into a personal device that I object; I see such devices as sacrosanct, as an extension of a person’s very mind. 
    You can't have it both ways. Today's telephone systems are the same as they were when they first came out. Phones are still tapped the same way. You saying your personal device is different doesn't hold water. My old telephone, when I finally was allowed by law to buy one, was my personal device just like my iPhone is now. You're still using a system to communicate that isn't yours to regulate (cellular and internet access). Our crazy governments could dictate that any communication over cellular systems or the internet can not legally use encryption to achieve the same thing as a backdoor. They could force companies to kill any encrypted data then there wouldn't need to be any end-to-end encryption because it wouldn't work. You know this could be achieved within everyone's router. Even though I own my Arris cable modem, Comcast has the lawful right to reconfigure it to meet their needs, which could include configuring it to strip encrypted data, leaving me with everything in clear text (again).

    I don't understand why this hasn't already happened and I don't believe it matters whether the Republications or Democrats are in office. You can bring up the fourth amendment but even that doesn't matter because Congress and the States could kill this amendment and every other amendment any time it wanted to using something like the Patriot Act. I'm surprised we still are allowed to use any encryption, probably because very few of the people in power in DC actually understand anything about it. Technology has evolved way too fast for our feeble minds to adjust to and the biggest problem is we don't use our brains when we need to use them the most; during times of fear. This is what is causing all the problems in this world--fear. If we slowed down and didn't react so quickly we might be able to make rational decisions but that's not how people operate in today's world. Everything happens in a split second.
    croprdewme
  • Reply 8 of 35
    netroxnetrox Posts: 687member
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service? How is a telephone call different from a text message? With probable cause and a judge’s order I don’t see the problem. The fourth amendment doesn’t prohibit search and seizure, just unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. That you don’t trust the government is your problem, not the Constitution’s.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    You clearly don't understand the ramifications that will come with opening the "backdoor" to allow government to snoop in a suspect's conversation because once a backdoor is created for government, a hacker will find the backdoor, makde copies of the backdoor instantly, and can get into anyone's conversations. And if you think the government will only look at ONE individual, you're sorely mistaken. They will repeat the same with more and more people. Why do you think the FBI is constantly looking for ways to break into citizens devices and wiretap them? The only way to prevent hackers from getting access to accounts is to NEVER allow a backdoor to be developed.
    SpamSandwichirelandviclauyycStrangeDaysmagman1979jony0
  • Reply 9 of 35
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,031member
    lkrupp said:
    The fourth amendment doesn’t prohibit search and seizure, just unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. That you don’t trust the government is your problem, not the Constitution’s.
    So you don't think requiring no encryption for everyone when the claim is that they want to investigate one person is "reasonable?"
    edited August 2018 jony0
  • Reply 10 of 35
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    “Criminals live in houses, and you live in houses, so we need a master key that can unlock every house! Don’t worry, we’ll only use it on the criminals.” – Government on digital privacy
    SpamSandwichirelandbonobobmagman1979watto_cobramacseekerjony0
  • Reply 11 of 35
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,514member
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service? How is a telephone call different from a text message? With probable cause and a judge’s order I don’t see the problem. The fourth amendment doesn’t prohibit search and seizure, just unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. That you don’t trust the government is your problem, not the Constitution’s.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    You seem to have misunderstood. 

    They are are not talking about wiretaps for a particular case; they want encryption broken permanently for one particular case. I take it you’ll be fine when the FBI demands that Apple breaks encryption on all their products for the same reason. 
  • Reply 12 of 35
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,060member
    ... Did they lose the skill ...;
    No, they didn't have end to end encryption back then.
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 13 of 35
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 163member
    It's Facebook ... just ask Cambridge Analytica to get the transcripts (we don't want to know how, just do it) :smiley:
    bonobobwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 35
    YvLyYvLy Posts: 71member
    Here is the thing: I lived in many different countries, Governments came and left, politics changed, Brexit, Grexit etc etc .... everything is permanently changing. Apple can not afford to bend to some momentarily "need", however plausible it may be. Apple is an international company with a worldwide market and the need to protect ALL customers no matter where they live. I can only applaud Apples stance and position over the last few years.
    entropysLordeHawkwatto_cobrasteven n.
  • Reply 15 of 35
    Ah yes, the MS-13 gang. The new SPECTRE that is headed up by Nancy Pelosi and her cadre of brown babies that she carefully planted along the border threatening the good white people there who are living in a perpetual state of fear.

    As for asking Facebook to be sleazy, let us just assume that this request is old and was already granted.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 35
    This will be the end result of DOJ and others get what they want on encrypted communication like Messages or FB Messenger:  Criminals will move to underground third party apps that are end to end encrypted and the gov't will have no ability to force anyone to give them a backdoor into it.  The rest of us will no longer have encrypted communication.

    I suspect that's what they want anyway.
    watto_cobrasteven n.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    Funny they should ask this of Facebook. You know, the company whose cavalier attitude towards privacy allowed interfering in elections. Sounds to me suspiciously like they target Facebook because they can give Facebook a really hard time (i.e., it's a soft target) and then use the outcome as a crowbar to crack open harder nuts like Apple and the like.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 35
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    Rayz2016 said:
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service? How is a telephone call different from a text message? With probable cause and a judge’s order I don’t see the problem. The fourth amendment doesn’t prohibit search and seizure, just unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. That you don’t trust the government is your problem, not the Constitution’s.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    You seem to have misunderstood. 

    They are are not talking about wiretaps for a particular case; they want encryption broken permanently for one particular case. I take it you’ll be fine when the FBI demands that Apple breaks encryption on all their products for the same reason. 
    Oh my, how did we ever survive our evil government for two hundred years before encryption saved us all. Hallelujah! And yes, it will be fine with me for the government to be able to get around encryption because I’m not delusional about security and privacy. I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory of some clerk in an NSA office rummaging through my emails and texts for no reason as they have much more important things to do with their precious time. And that’s NOT the “why worry if you’re not doing anything wrong” attitude. It’s the common sense attitude. This whole subject is just the cause célebrè of the day for techies.

    Here’s one for you. Years ago there was a murder in my town. A woman killed her boyfriend, chopped him up into pieces and put him in her garbage can. She was in an upstairs apartment. The downstairs apartment called the police because a red substance was leaking down her walls from upstairs. I wonder what that red substance was.The cops went upstairs to talk with the woman. While in her apartment one cop lifted the lid of her garbage can only to discover the dismembered body. The discovery of the body was ruled inadmissible evidence because the cop didn’t have a search warrant when he lifted the lid of the garbage can. Is that really what the fourth amendment was designed for? 
  • Reply 19 of 35
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,081member
    lkrupp said:
    It is such a shame that facebook did not exist in the times of mafia, and that is why whole mafia families were not prosecuted, (because there was no eviden)...oh wait. Somehow 50 years ago, FBI guys were able to collect enough information on those guys to put them behind bars. Did they lose the skill so now we need "no locks" on doors so cops could solve crimes? 
    I have a hard time believing that MS-13 gang members are more sophisticated than 1970-1980s Italian mafia. 
    What abject stupidity. The FBI used court ordered wiretaps and hidden microphones to listen in on the mob, as well as informants. How is that different from getting a court order to “wiretap” an encrypted texting service? How is a telephone call different from a text message? With probable cause and a judge’s order I don’t see the problem. The fourth amendment doesn’t prohibit search and seizure, just unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant. That you don’t trust the government is your problem, not the Constitution’s.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    The question is, is a backdoor (and this is what they are talking about) reasonable? I would say it isn't. This is not about distrust of the government. This is not about "privacy" VS "security". This is about "privacy AND security" vs a "false sense of security". Period. No question.

    There are still ways to get the data they need. Hidden microphones. Hidden cameras. IR laser listening. These might be a bit harder but they can still be very effective. These can also be used without putting the privacy and security of billions at risk.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    And of course after the next terrorist attack takes thousands of lives you all will be blaming the government for not knowing it was going down. Nice.
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